Floor leaders of parties whose Rajya Sabha members are among the 12 suspended for the entire winter session of Parliament have been asked to attend a meeting with Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi on Monday morning to discuss a way out of the parliamentary logjam.
Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge responded to Mr. Joshi, saying it was “unfortunate and unfair” to invite only leaders of parties whose MPs had been suspended rather than all Opposition party leaders.
Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu on Friday asked Mr. Joshi to work over the weekend to find a solution to the impasse. Opposition leaders, however, said the call to attend the meeting would have to be taken as a group. The late invitation appeared to be a token effort, and not really a sincere desire to heal the breach between the Treasury and Opposition benches, they felt.
Floor leaders of the Congress, the Trinamool Congress, the CPI, the CPI(M) and the Shiv Sena confirmed that they had received missives from Mr. Joshi calling for a meeting.
Pitch for unity
Mr. Kharge’s strong pitch for Opposition unity was for once echoed by the Trinamool, which has so far kept away from the joint Opposition strategy meetings called by the Congress.
While the Trinamool may not join a meeting of Opposition leaders scheduled for 9.45 a.m. on Monday due to its differences with the Congress on the leadership of the Opposition grouping, other parties have said they may attend.
“Monday morning stunt from a government who do not want Parliament to function. Government calls leaders of the four opposition parties whose 12 Rajya Sabha MPs have been arbitrarily suspended. Government leaves other 10 opposition parties out. Failed stunt. All opposition clear: first revoke arbitrary suspension,” tweeted Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien.
Sanjay Raut of the Shiv Sena confirmed that Mr. Joshi had written to his party, and added that the “Opposition leaders will meet in Parliament tomorrow to take a decision on taking part in the meeting called by the government”.
There are four sittings left for the winter session to conclude, and important Bills, including the Electoral Reforms (Amendment) Bill, 2021, and the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which aims to raise the age of marriage for women to 21, have been listed in the government’s agenda.